Indiana News

Medco Picks Central Indiana For 'Flagship' Automated Pharmacy

11/12/2007

An automated pharmacy that employs about 1,300 people and churns out more than a million prescriptions a week is slated to set up shop in central Indiana starting next year.

New Jersey-based Medco Health Solutions Inc. announced Monday that it will spend $150 million to build a 318,000-square-foot pharmacy from scratch at one of three potential sites in Johnson, Hendricks or Boone counties.

Medco President and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Klepper said they will pick the location in the next 30 days for what he called "the world's largest automated pharmacy."

He said the Indiana location, which will be the size of six and a half football fields, will become the flagship of Medco's three automated pharmacies. The others are in Las Vegas and Willingboro, N.J.

The new location will handle mail order prescriptions for people on chronic medications, Medco spokeswoman Ann Smith said. An automated process will fill about 90 percent of the prescriptions. Orders for temperature sensitive drugs or fragile pills will be filled manually.

"The pharmacists at Medco for the most part don't put pills in bottles," Klepper said. "They're totally focused on patients and patient care."

Publicly traded Medco is the nation's largest stand-alone prescription benefit manager. It ranks 54th on the 2007 Fortune 500 list. Earlier this month, Medco reported nearly $215 million in third-quarter profit, an increase of almost 16 percent over 2006.

Medco plans to start construction next year on the Indiana location, with the pharmacy opening in early 2009. Hiring will start next year, too, with most of it being done in 2010 and 2011. By 2012, the company expects to employ around 1,300 people.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said the pharmacy will be a life sciences, distribution and IT facility all at once.

"This will bring the diversity of jobs that we have sought for the Indiana economy," he said.

Daniels joined Kleppner at a Statehouse news conference to announce the pharmacy.

Medco will employ more than 100 pharmacists at the new location. It also will hire delivery and warehouse employees, supervisors; and pharmacy, electrical and mechanical technicians.

The average salary will fall between $50,000 and $53,000. But Smith said that will cover a wide spectrum of jobs, with pharmacists being at the top.

Medco picked central Indiana after a yearlong site search that considered 21 other cities, including Louisville.

Klepper said Indianapolis' location and highway system helped sway them. He also noted that the pharmacy programs at Purdue and Butler universities were a "big plus," and government cooperation also helped.

Indiana offered Medco up to $18.25 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $450,000 in training grants.
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